Southern Culture on the Skids

The Kudzu Ranch

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Anyone worried that retro-hillbilly white-trash trio Southern Culture on the Skids would mature in the six years since the band's previous batch of originals can be comforted by just glancing at these song titles. Tunes such as "Pig Pickin'," "My Neighbor Burns Trash," and "Bone Dry Dirt" all fit into the SCOTS' fun-filled catalog by way of their liquored-up and lacquered-down mindset. This short but rocking dozen-track platter follows a live and an all-covers album which gave them breathing room to write ten solid tunes. It recaps the trio's established influences (rollicking surf, chicken-pickin' country, swinging girl group, grimy garage, and simmering swamp rock are present in their trashy glory) and even expands their palette to include spaghetti Western and (modified) punk and psychedelia. Recorded at frontman/guitarist Rick Miller's vintage equipment filled titular studios, the basic three piece is augmented by occasional keyboards and a second guitar, but the core sound is the same as on the group's 1991 debut. Bassist Mary Huff steps up for solo vocal turns three times, most notably on a thumping, T. Rex-driven "It's the Music that Makes Me" and a tough/sexy/playful "Bad Boys." Like any quality veteran act, SCOTS continues to grow, if subtly, as evidenced by this disc's creative instrumental mash-up of Nirvana's "Come as You Are" with Pink Floyd's "Lucifer Sam," an abbreviated three-minute side road that shows how easily the SCOTS' sound can be adapted to other genres. A cover of Neil Young's "Are You Ready for the Country" is less inventive but takes the tune down a sturdy Chuck Berry path. The closing slow dance, "Jack's Tune," somewhat reminiscent of Santo & Johnny's "Sleepwalk," proves that Miller, Huff, and Hartman maintain their appeal when playing it straight. Early copies of the CD include a link to download four additional tracks, remixes, and alternate versions, which fans will enjoy nearly as much as this terrific addition to SCOTS' catalog of low-rent, high-energy American rock & roll guaranteed to make any party a little better.

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